The 2015 season is officially in the books, and it’s time to hand out some virtual hardware. First of all, we want to thank all of the drivers that competed with us this past season. Many drivers will not be recognized in these awards, but they don’t go unnoticed as every driver plays a big role in what this league has become and what it will be in the future. Before we start every race, we always say “thank you for coming out” and we truly mean it. We’ve got a lot planned for 2016 year, and are very excited for what’s to come. But first, let’s hand out some awards!
Callaway Investments Sportsman Street Stock Series
First off, we’ll start with the Callaway Investments Sportsman Street Stock Series. We want to thank Callaway Investments for coming on board last season, and thanks to all the drivers that competed in the division.
Street Stocks Champion – Joe Schaffer – 11 starts, 9 top tens, 8 top fives, 2 poles, 5 wins – Joe started off the season hot with three wins in the first four races. After the Fall Brawl, he came back out and added two more wins in his next three starts, which was enough to propel him into a strong points lead at the end of the season. The championship for Joe, was his 2nd career title to go along with his 2015 Summer Season Pro Late Model championship.
Street Stocks Pole Award – Matt Rolfe – 3 poles – Matt added three poles to his numbers this past season, earning poles at Irwindale Inner, Lucas Oil, and Oxford Plains.
Street Stocks Winners Circle Award – Joe Schaffer – 5 wins – Joe picked up five wins this past season, with victories at USA, Lanier, Stafford, Lucas Oil, and Five Flags.
Street Stocks Rookie of the Season – Tom Wetmore (75 points – see bottom of post for Rookie points breakdown*) – 8 starts, 6 top tens, 4 top fives, 1 pole, 2 wins – Tom joined us in the Summer Season SS finale, and came back this past season and put up some great performances in the Street Stocks. Tom’s season was highlighted by a pair of victories. One came at Iowa after he took the pole and won the Qualifying Dash, and followed that up by leading 22 laps and taking the win. Then he closed off the season with his 2nd win at SoBo, after an intense battle for the lead and a late race shootout.
NEO Racing News SK Shootout Series
Next up is the NEO Racing News SK Shootout Series. Big thanks for our long time supporter, NEO Racing News, and thanks to all of the drivers that competed in the SK Modified division.
SK Modifieds Champion – Bill Martin – 11 starts, 10 top tens, 10 top fives, 4 poles, 6 wins – The first race of the SK season for Bill, ended on lap 1 and resulted in a 30th place finish. After that, Bill came out swinging as he rolled off ten straight podium finishes to round out his season. His season was highlighted by the six victories including the season finale, and he added two 2nd place finishes, and two 3rd place finishes as well. The championship for Bill was his 5th career title, and his 2nd SK Modified championship.
SK Modifieds Pole Award – Bill Martin – 4 poles – Bill grabbed the pole four times this past season, at Iowa, Phoenix, Stafford, and New Smyrna.
SK Modifieds Winners Circle Award – Bill Martin – Bill picked up a series’ best six wins this past season, including victories at Iowa, Phoenix, Stafford, Five Flags, New Smyrna, and capped off the season with a win at South Boston.
SK Modifieds Rookie of the Season – Hunter Combs (79 points – see bottom of post for Rookie points breakdown*) – 12 starts, 9 top tens, 5 top fives – Hunter joined us in Week 2 of the season, and got off to a little bit of a slow start, but really found his groove in the second half of the season. Hunter’s SK season was highlighted with all of his top five finishes being podium finishes as well. He finished 2nd at Lanier and Stafford, and led 65 laps at Five Flags and finished 3rd.
MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Model Series
The MRolfeDesigns Pro Late Model Series is up next. Once again, thanks to all of the drivers that competed in the division this season, as this division had the highest car counts of any of our series in the Fall.
Pro Late Models Champion – Bill Martin – 11 starts, 8 top tens, 8 top fives, 1 pole, 3 wins – Bill’s season got off to a completely different start than his SK season did, as he picked up the opening PLM win at USA. Aside from three finishes outside of the top 15, all of Bill’s other finishes were inside of the top five, including his three wins and a 2nd place finish in the season finale that clinched the title. His PLM championship was his 6th SARA championship, which puts him at the top of the list of the all-time champion leader.
Pro Late Models Pole Award – Cody Kelley – 3 poles – Cody picked up the pole three times in just five starts, at USA, Stafford, and Five Flags.
Pro Late Models Winners Circle Award – Bill Martin – 3 wins – Bill added three victories to his resume this season, with wins at USA, Irwindale Outer, and his best track, Lucas Oil.
Pro Late Models Rookie of the Season – Jason Williams (74 points – see bottom of post for Rookie points breakdown*) – 13 starts, 7 top tens, 1 top five – Jason ran full time as a rookie in the Pro Late Model division. He had some bad luck throughout the season and only had three top ten finishes in the first seven races, but then finished the season with four top tens in the last six races. Jason’s season was highlighted by leading some laps at Lanier, and he picked up a runner-up finish at Five Flags.
RB Performance Super Late Model Series
Finally we have the RB Performance Super Late Model Series, our premier series. The division is probably the toughest of any division to win in, but we had another great season. Again, thank you to all of the drivers that competed in the Super Late Models.
Super Late Models Champion – Matt Rolfe – 13 starts, 12 top tens, 10 top fives, 1 pole – Matt proved that consistency can be just as important as wins in a championship battle. Matt got off to a strong start with four straight top five finishes, and ten straight top tens. Matt’s season was highlighted by a pair of 2nd’s at Lucas Oil and Five Flags, four other podium finishes, and a pole at South Boston.
Super Late Models Pole Award – Cody Kelley & Ty Majeski – 3 poles – Cody picked up poles at USA, New Smyrna, and Oxford. Ty picked up poles at New Hampshire, Lanier, and Stafford.
Super Late Models Winners Circle Award – Cody Kelley – 3 wins – Cody added three victories to his total this season with wins at Milwaukee, New Smyrna and Oxford.
Super Late Models Rookie of the Season – Jason Williams (77 points – see bottom of post for Rookie points breakdown*) – 13 starts, 9 top tens, 5 top fives – Jason adds the SLM rookie honors to go along with his PLM honors. The SLM season went pretty well for him, with some impressive runs. With just one top ten finish in the first four races, Jason then rolled off eight top ten finishes in the last 9 races, which was highlighted by a trio of 3rd place finishes at Iowa, New Smyrna, and Five Flags.
Overall Pole Award
Awarded to the driver(s) with the most overall poles across all divisions this past season.
Bill Martin – 7 poles – With 7 poles this past season, Bill increases his total to 36 career SARA poles, which puts him 3rd all-time. Bill added four SK Modified poles, two Super Late Model poles, and one Pro Late Model pole.
Cody Kelley – 7 poles – With 7 poles this past season, Cody increases his total to 22 career SARA poles, which puts him 6th all-time. Cody added three Super Late Model poles, three Pro Late Model poles, and one SK Modified pole.
Overall Winners Circle Award
Awarded to the driver with the most overall wins across all divisions this past season.
Bill Martin – 10 wins – Bill added 10 victories to his impressive SARA career this past season, bringing his total up to 35 career SARA victories, which puts him 3rd on the all-time wins list. Six SK Modified wins, and three Pro Late Model wins propelled him to championships in both divisions, and he added another victory in the Super Late Models.
Virgin Winner Awards
Awarded to drivers who picked up their first career SARA victories this past season.
Tom Wetmore – Sportsman Street Stock victory at Iowa
Jeremy Davis – Super Late Model victory at Milwaukee
Ian Layne – SK Modified victory at Lanier
Hunter Combs – Pro Late Model victory at Lanier
Darrell Hamlin – Sportsman Street Stock victory at Langley
Josh Hart – Pro Late Model victory at Phoenix
Safe Driver Discount Awards
Awarded to the drivers that have the most incident-free races across the league this past season.
Overall Safest Driver – Dale Owen – 16 total incident free races, including the most in the SK Modified division with 5, and tied for the most in the Street Stock division with 7 incident-free races.
Ian Layne – 14 total incident-free races
Matt Rolfe – 14 total incident-free races
Joe Schaffer – 13 total incident-free races, tied for the most in the Street Stock division with 7 incident-free races
Russell Berry – 11 total incident-free races
Scott Dunlap – 11 total incident-free races, tied for the most in the Pro Late Model division with 5 incident-free races
Hunter Combs – 10 total incident-free races
Ty Spearman – 9 total incident-free races
Jason Williams – 8 total incident-free races, most in the Super Late Model division with 6 incident-free races
Bill Martin – 8 total incident-free races, tied for the most in the Pro Late Model division with 5 incident-free races
Consistency Is Key Awards
Awarded to the drivers that picked up top ten finishes in the points standings in three or more divisions.
Dale Owen – 3rd in Super Late Model points, 7th in Pro Late Model points, 4th in SK Modified points, 3rd in Sportsman Street Stock points
Ian Layne – 5th in Super Late Model points, 8th in Pro Late Model points, 5th in SK Modified points, 4th in Sportsman Street Stock points
Matt Rolfe – 1st in Super Late Model points, 6th in Pro Late Model points, 6th in SK Modified points, 2nd in Sportsman Street Stock points
Russell Berry – 4th in Super Late Model points, 9th in Pro Late Model points, 5th in Sportsman Street Stock points
Joe Schaffer – 10th in Super Late Model points, 10th in Pro Late Model points, 1st in Sportsman Street Stock points
Iron Man Award
Awarded to the driver that competes in the most overall races over the course of the season across all divisions.
Ian Layne – 52 total starts – Technically both Ian and Matt Rolfe started all of the races this past season, but we’ll give the nod to Ian on this one. This is (we believe…can’t find last season’s awards..) Ian’s second straight season picking up this award after racing in every single event. And with the more experience Ian gets, the more often we’ve seen him near the front of the field. Something about the new surface model and the latest build has also helped Ian, and between the experience and the comfortability with the new track surfaces, it helped Ian pick up his first career SARA victory.
Hard Luck Award
Awarded to the driver that ran into some bad luck this past season, and their season didn’t go the way it could have.
Michael Baxter – Michael’s SK Modified season definitely didn’t go quite the way he had hoped this past season, with only five top ten finishes in twenty starts. But he could have had more with a little bit of luck on his side, as he was involved in some incidents, and was found in the wrong place and the wrong time, that led to some early exits in a few of his races. One race that sticks out was the second half of the Twin 75 Lanier features. Michael had just picked up his best career finish, and first career top five finish in the first race of the night, but in the second race was involved in a racing deal on lap 1 that sent his car head on into the wall, ending his race before it starts. There were a couple other races where he had worked his way into the top ten, but some similar bad luck that prevented him from getting some of those good finishes. Here’s to some better luck for Michael next season.
Lucky Dog Award
Awarded to the driver that had some good luck on their side this past season, and made the most of it with some good finishes.
Hunter Combs – We’re not sure how much of this was good luck for Hunter, or if it was just him putting himself into good positions where he was able to capitalize on other’s bad luck. Either way, Hunter picked up a couple victories this past season with a little bit of help, but he certainly was running good enough at the time to make the most of it. He picked up his first career win in the Pro Late Model race at Lanier, when the top two cars were both involved with separate incidents that dropped them out of the lead. And then he added another victory in the Street Stock race at Oxford when the leader’s computer froze up and dropped him from the lead. In either case, Hunter had fast cars, but a little bit of luck may have helped turn those races into victories.
Most Improved Driver Award
Awarded to the driver that shows the most improvement over the course of a season, or shows improvement from one season to the next.
Marc Gammack – Marc joined the league back in the Summer Season and ran in the Pro Late Model division, mostly competing to try and pick up top ten finishes. Moving into the Fall Season, Marc showed steady improvement from the end of the Summer and throughout the Fall. Marc was running inside the top ten more consistently and was able to compete near the front of the field more often. While his Pro Late Model numbers stayed the same as far as his 6 top tens and 3 top fives in each of the last two seasons, his numbers across the board improved including his average starting position, average finish, more laps completed, less incidents, and without getting caught up in a couple incidents that weren’t his fault, those numbers could have been even better. Marc could have a solid season in the Spring if he continues improving like he has.
Late Surge Award
Awarded to the driver that comes on strong over the second half of the season.
Dale Owen – Dale certainly fits into this category after his performances over the second half of the season. Dale started 47 total races in the Fall Season across all the divisions, and in his final 26 races of the season, he posted 23 top ten finishes. Of those 23 top tens, 14 of them were top fives, and eight of them were finishes of either 1st or 2nd. Dale finished out the season with three 2nd place finishes in the final four races of the Street Stock season, and also had three 2nd place finishes in the season finale races at South Boston. And he picked up his first two “upper division” wins with a pair of SK Modified victories. As good as Dale was late in the season, we’re looking forward to see if he can roll that momentum into next season.
Awarded to a driver who embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement. A driver who races with respect, races cleanly, and represents what this league is all about.
Jason Williams – Jason came into the league last season as an unknown, but after running full time in both the Pro Late Models and Super Late Models, he gained a lot of respect from other drivers and from league admins by the end of the season. His season started off a little slow, but my mid-season he was hitting his stride and was getting better finishes. But as his speeds picked up and his finishes started improving, he was doing it cleanly and wasn’t being over-aggressive to do so. He ran his own races, quietly running inside the top ten a lot of the time, but he was also around at the end of most races to see the checkered flag as he took care of his stuff, logged laps, ran cleanly, and the good finishes came after all of that. We look forward to competing against Jason more this Spring.
Driver of the Season
Awarded to the driver that had the best overall performance of the season.
Bill Martin – 29 starts, 22 top tens, 21 top fives, 17 podium finishes, 10 wins, 7 poles, 847 laps led – This isn’t Bill’s first time picking up this award, but when you go out and lead the league in overall wins and overall poles, and pick up a pair of championships to go with it, it’s hard to argue against giving this to him once again. Aside from a few rare races when Bill dropped out early or was involved in a wreck, he was running up front and contending for wins each time out as 17 of his 21 top five finishes were on the podium,and most of those were either 1st or 2nd place finishes. Bill wrapped up his SK title with a victory, and did what he needed to do in the Pro Late Model finale to capture that title as well. His titles put him at six career SARA championships where he sits alone at the top of that list, and solidifies Bill as one of the all-time SARA greats.
* For the 2015 Fall Season, Rookie points were unofficially scored at the end of the season. Rookie points are scored by giving out 10 points to the highest finishing rookie in each race, 9 points to the next highest finishing rookie, etc. For each division, the rookie’s best 8 finishes were taken into consideration, meaning that a rookie driver could pick up a maximum of 80 points (10 points for being the highest finishing rookie in their 8 best races). A driver was considered to be a rookie if they had less than 5 starts in the division, and had less than 5 starts in any of the upper series divisions above it.